How to Stop Impulse Shopping

In this infographic from RaboDirect, the impulse buying tendencies of Australians has been discussed in detail. Keep in mind that this info isn’t true for Aussies alone, rather this economic phenomenon is present in most countries around the world especially since people can now do their shopping virtually.

Thanks to the statistics from RaboDirect, we know that 81% of Australians have bought something out of impulse in the past six months. And while it would seem women have a greater tendency to buy on impulse, men tend to spend more. Based on various studies, women have bought more clothes and shoes while men mainly purchase gadgets.

Impulse shopping is fine when you have enough to spend, but if you don’t have enough, this nasty habit can start to hurt your wallet.

Most people who impulse buy in shopping stores and online shops purchase items using cash, debit cards and credit cards with the latter being the most frequently used. However, credit card users need to be aware: if impulse buying with your card gets out of hand, is the bargain really worth the debt procured?

The Psychology Behind Impulse Shopping

88% of occurences of impulse shopping are due to “SALE”. The word “sale” has the psychological effect of reeling customers in (reason behind this is discussed in a previous article, How These 10 Powerful Words can Draw Traffic and Increase Your Sales).

Impulse buying may range from simple clothes and shoes to expensive, flashy cars. In fact, 85% of the British population admitted to impulse spending in the last five years. They have spent a total of around 6.2 billion pounds.

Here are several psychological reasons why impulse buying seems so irresistible:

  • These items that are not on the necessary shopping list can put the buyer in better mood
  • Impulse buying relieves stress and anger
  • Impulse buying happens when shoppers want to release guilt or when they are bored
  • An attractive offer seems too good to pass up and won’t be likely to happen again (Loss Aversion Switch)
  • Buyers focused on the now, not on the “tomorrow”

There are some common after-shopping scenarios; either the impulsive buyer really has benefited a long-term happiness from the product they bought impulsively or the shopper is wallowing in regret and the debt that comes with their impulsive decision.

Are you guilty of impulse shopping? If so, how do you curb this retail therapy?

Anti-Impulse Buying Tips

1. Don’t use your credit card


Credit cards incur interest rates. So when you splurge, expect an additional cost. Credit cards also make the buying experience easy. This is why many marketers bank on the credit card’s effect on impulse spending.

Avoid credit cards all together if possible. When going to the supermarket, bring a specific amount of cash that you can estimate before-hand based on the exact number of things you need to buy. Leave your credit cards at home. And when shopping online, don’t save your credit card details. This way you won’t get tempted to click “add to cart” and “check-out”.

Doing your shopping at shopping centers/supermarkets rather than online and paying in cash makes you more aware of the amount you are actually spending.

2. Use a shopping list

shopping listphoto: H is for Home

Group items in the list so that you’ll be able get them all in one aisle. Make the list in your free time when you have time to think, check and recheck your pantry for any other product needs and make sure they are properly listed.

3. Keep a splurge fund


There will always be times when splurging is unavoidable. Expert advice says that keeping a little splurge fund is okay, as long as you don’t get a nagging feeling to spend it every time your eyes dwell on the envelope or piggy bank.

Don’t keep the splurge fund in your purse or in your bag. Those who have cash in their wallets and purses spends more impulsively since it’s readily available. Keep this fund at home and set a small amount only. Set an amount you can spare that won’t damage your savings.

Use this splurge fund only when necessary.

4. Install time delay script on shopping sites


Shopping websites are a black hole for your “savings”. With one click, you get what you want without taking out any cash. However, this really isn’t healthy in the long run. To decide if you really need the things in your cart, employ a five minute delay script that will black out the website for a couple of minutes.

The back out will help you think and will rewire your brain and impulsivity. You might realise you don’t need or want those things after all.

5. Have a 30 minute rule or a 30 day rule

Stopphoto: Rupert Ganzer

For physical shopping, for example if you have your eye on a new gadget, employ the 30 day rule. When a new phone comes out, don’t by one right away. Schedule it for another 30 days. If you still have the urge and the wanting hasn’t waned, then go ahead!

6. Don’t shop on pay day

4296960845_892aa83f4a_zphoto: David Blackwell

Payday is splurge day. However, payday is one critical day when you’ll decide whether to set a chunk of money aside for savings or buy something out of impulse and be broke for the rest of the month. Pay day shopping is always tempting. And its the time when shopping centers stage their “sales” which can entice you.

If possible, go home and breathe. Shop the next day when the impulsive temptation of sales isn’t there anymore and you have already divided your money into different bills.

7. Walk to the supermarket

7661511562_261987e8a4_zphoto: Alice Popkorn

Studies show that shoppers who travel by a car to the supermarket or shopping mall are more likely spend on unplanned purchases than those who walkk. Why? First, the walk can calm your brain and help you think twice over purchases. And second, if you have the car, you have an excuse to buy more since you won’t be carrying them by hand all the way home.

So leave the car, use the walk to contemplate your list (and for exercise!) and buy only what is necessary.

8. Schedule shopping trips, make them less often.

bag-15709_1920photo: pixabay

Schedule your shopping and do not do it every weekend or every other day. Scheduling it minimizes your purchases and will make you plan out your financial needs for the month. Don’t visit your favorite shops when not necessary.

9. Wait for second generation gadgets

gadgetphoto: pixabay

When in need of gadgets, wait for the second generation. By then the hype will die down and there will be less pricey. Plus, you might change your mind by then and find something better and cheaper.

10. Avoid turning right when entering a store

turn rightphoto: dipurinku | MERGED

The bargains are usually on the left. And usually, clearance displays are in disarray and you yourself have to sort through the mess. Shopkeepers make their stores this way so you feel more inclined to go towards the hanged, albeit expensive, options on the right side of the store.

11. Don’t shop with a friend who is a reckless shopper

friendsphoto: pixabay

When you shop with a reckless shopper, your impulsiveness doubles as well. Since your friend tends to be okay with the spending, you’ll think less of the possible consequences as well.

Instead, shop alone or be with someone who’s sensible with spending. Or if you’re with a friend, stick to your pre-made list.

12. Avoid the small stuff near the counter

shoppingphoto: Ian Britton

The small stuff near the counter is called add-ons and are often picked up impulsively. You may think they are little items and so cost less, but these things can add up. A magazine here, a candy there and a cheap lighter there will not make your life better.

Instead, focus on checking your items in the cart. This way you can further eliminate those that aren’t really needed.

13. Say no to your children

kids-photo: pixabay

Kid’s requests are often a big part of impulse buying. Toys that catch their attention are often the main culprits. However, the best way to manage kids is to start young, telling them “no”.

You will instill discipline in them plus you will avoid extra spending over something your child doesn’t really need.

In the end..

Hopefully this list will help you. The tips we mentioned are just a few surefire ways to wane yourself from the weekly or every payday impulsive buying spree you and your friends just can’t seem to stop!


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